I googled “songs about overcoming troubles in life” and came up with literally dozens (hundreds maybe?) of options. Everything from the blues (of course) to rock-n-roll. Maybe that’s because going through hard times is something that is common to everyone on the planet. From cradle to grave, we all experience ups and downs, mountains and valleys, highs and lows—no matter what you call them, trouble comes calling for all of us!
In the Bible, Job 14:1 says, “Man who is born of woman is few of days and full of trouble.” How’s that for encouraging words! Even Jesus told His disciples in John 16:33, “…In this world, you will have trouble…” So, what’s the point? Is there purpose in the struggles that we experience or witness others go through? What good can come from catastrophe, illness, disappointment, betrayal, or death?
Have you ever just looked up at the sky and cried out, “Why, Lord?” I have. Plenty of times. From childhood on, I have learned that life can leave you reeling in grief, physical and emotional pain, and spiritual isolation. Sometimes the darkness overshadows good judgment, anger corrupts good character, and pain crowds out resilience. It’s easier to self-absorb all the negativity than to get up and keep moving. Getting out of bed can be a struggle. Forget functioning in the real world.
Have you ever just looked up at the sky and cried out, “Why, Lord?” I have. Plenty of times.
When going through a deep valley of depression several years ago, I began to receive anonymous notes. I could tell from the handwriting that they were from a woman, but I had no idea who was sending them. The notes included Scriptures and encouragement. In one of the darkest times of my life, those notes reminded me someone was thinking about me and praying for me. Sometime later, the mystery was solved when I learned it was a precious aunt who saw my demeanor and recognized the spiral. She never approached me with condemnation or useless platitudes; instead, she gave me exactly what I needed—prayer and God’s Word. She used what had gotten her through tough times to minister to me. She found purpose in the pain she had experienced in life through ministering to a young wife and mother who was drowning.
I believe there is a great purpose in our painful life struggles. None of our tears are wasted, and each difficulty can serve as a catalyst to strengthen someone else going through something similar. Using an acrostic, let’s turn pain into four positive words:
P – Perseverance
A – Acceptance
I – Inclusion
N – Nurture
We may not realize how strong we are until we are put to the test. James 1:3 says, “…you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” I’ve witnessed people experience grief at various stages. While walking through grief and trying circumstances can seem like one step forward and two steps back, the important thing is that we don’t get stuck in any one phase for a long period. This is where perseverance gets its walking shoes, moving one step at a time, forwards, backward, but forward again. You may wear your boots through to the soles, but you keep moving. You know there is light and life on the other side.
There comes a point in time when most people accept the fact that life isn’t fair and is often downright unjust. But it isn’t enough to simply accept those facts; the truth has to settle into the core of our being so that we aren’t driven crazy by either our terrible personal circumstances or those of the people around us. Healthy acceptance of our condition doesn’t negate our experience or mean that we have become whole again. It’s simply a step in the right direction. I see the issues, I call them what they are, and I believe that I can overcome in time. I don’t run and hide.
I believe there is a great purpose in our painful life struggles. None of our tears are wasted, and each difficulty can serve as a catalyst to strengthen someone else going through something similar.
The opportunity to involve people in our pain can seem daunting. We don’t want to be that person who winds up as a social pariah because she is always a “Debbie Downer.” But suppose you ask one or two people to share your burden? Find prayer partners who you know will hit their knees for you over and over and will hold your hand, literally and figuratively. The Bible tells us in Galatians 6:2 that believers are to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” The Apostle Paul, who wrote Galatians, had previously reminded his readers in Galatians 5:14 that Jesus said the law is fulfilled in love, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” How can we express healthy, vital love if we aren’t willing to be vulnerable and share one another’s burdens?
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4). Imagine that you had the gift of healing, but kept it hidden. You could literally touch people, and they would no longer be sick, but you choose to ignore the many opportunities around you to share your gift. Seems unthinkable, right? Yet when it comes to surrounding our sisters who need strength, encouragement, and a shoulder to cry on, we seem to forget we’ve been there, too. The opportunities to nurture someone in pain are everywhere, and we have been given the gift of grappling with troubles so that we can be conduits of healing. Open your eyes and see the needs around you, at work, at home, even at your favorite hangout spots. Chances are, there is someone who could use a gift wrapped in love and solace.
I love Isaiah 61:1-3, which reads, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”
We can be that for other people when we allow our pain to shape our purpose in life. We don’t all have to become counselors, but we can all give a smile, a hug, write an encouraging note, pray with someone, and pray for someone. Jesus said in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” In Him, we can be overcomers!
For more articles on this topic, start here:
When You’re Desperate to Know the Reason for Your Pain
Her Story Will Make You Cry, But Help You Find Hope
When Dreams Die… Grieving What Should Have Been
This Is Why Women Are Great Defenders of the Helpless
For the Woman Who Wants to Be Strong
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